Loud Light Kansas political recap: emergency management limitations, forced school re-openings, and a Republican power grab

The Pitch has partnered with a local political awareness organization called Loud Light. Their goal is to engage and empower individuals from underrepresented populations to build community power. And impact decision-makers. Each week of the year that the Kansas statehouse is in session, they release a short video recapping what the legislature is up to.

Knowing the nitty-gritty of what’s happening with your representatives is the only way to stay involved with the way local government affects your life. You can donate to support Loud Light’s work by clicking here.

Here is this week’s video transcription:

Hey I’m Davis Hammet with Loud Light. Here’s what happened in the 7th week of the Kansas legislative session.

Restricting Emergency Management (SB273)
A senate bill to radically change state emergency management laws was introduced on Tuesday and passed out of committee on Thursday. The bill would limit every level of the government’s ability to respond to a public health crisis. It creates a special legislative committee of 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats that would have to approve of a Governor’s executive orders before they could go into effect and could force the Governor to testify at any point. Additionally, it would strip away power from local health officials, allow anyone upset by a health order to force a city or school into district court, and has a variety of review mechanisms that could make emergency orders take a couple days before going into effect. Sen. Steffen (R) who helped a salesperson pitch essential oils as a treatment for COVID-19 last year suggested an amendment to define “acceptable science” that the committee added to the bill. It passed out of committee along party lines and is headed to the Senate floor.

Food Assistance  (HB2371)
Since 2015, Kansas has required single parents to participate in seeking child support against their ex-partner before being able to access food assistance. A house bill passed out of committee that would remove this requirement.

Rules Constitutional Amendment (HCR5014/SCR1609)
Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) joined leaders of the Republican supermajority to propose a constitutional amendment that would give a simple majority of legislators the power to undo any rule or regulation by the executive branch. Supporters call it an oversight mechanism and opponents call it a power grab. The legislature can already overturn any rule, regulation, or anything else by passing a law.

Medical Marijuana (HB2184)
The house held a hearing on a medical marijuana bill that included a child having a seizure as their mother pleaded with lawmakers to allow her child to access the medicine. The main opposition to the bill was from law enforcement agencies. Since marijuana bills are in federal and state affairs committees they are exempt from normal legislative deadlines so they may be worked on in committee for many more weeks.

Banning Vaccine Requirements (SB213)
Sen. Steffen (R) has argued that responding to deadly contagious diseases is an individual choice not a societal effort and claims that vaccines kill people. He introduced a bill to ban employers including hospitals and nursing homes from requiring staff to be vaccinated. The bill had a hearing Thursday where it was supported by alternative medicine businesses, but opposed by professional health organizations and individuals with immune disorders. Committee Chairman Sen. Olson (R) blocked several opponents from giving their testimony citing the time.

Forcing Schools Open (SB235)
A senate bill passed out of committee that would force all Kansas public schools to provide an in-person full time option for students in less than a month.

Trump Endorses Moran
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R) voted to acquit Pres. Trump (R) for inciting the violent insurrection against the United States on January 6th. Donald Trump (R) has now endorsed Jerry Moran in his 2022 reelection campaign.

Coming Up
Next week is turnaround week where Senators and House Representatives will be on the floor every day debating and voting on bills. Most bills need to pass at least one chamber by next Friday to stay alive for the year.

Thanks for liking, sharing, and donating to make this possible. Stay tuned, stay engaged, and until next time, thank you so much Kansas!

Categories: Politics